On Nyanya-Maraba road, Keke as necessary evil
Despite the ban on commercial tricycles along major highways in Abuja, there seem to be some form of reappearance of the vehicle, as operators boldly flout this directive without fear of prosecution.
From the Airport road, Zuba or Nyanya-Mararaba axis, tricycle riders operate in full throttle in full glare of law enforcement agents, sending conflicting messages as to the government’s ability to make laws and enforce them.
Ordinarily, the Abuja master plan did not make provisions for Keke to operate in the capital city. Section 42(1) of the road traffic Act of the FCT is very clear about the operation of Keke Napep. It says permit should not be granted for them to operate.
However, because of the magnanimity of government, it gave waivers for the group to operate in the estates and suburbs. This is because government does not want to prevent anybody from doing his work or looking for food in the FCT.
The invasion of commercial tricycles on highways is particularly worrisome along the Nyanya-Maraba axis where they have since replaced commercial motorcycles and even buses.
The operators of the tricycle have practically taken over the highway. They drive reckless forcing passers-by to at times scamper for safety. Reports from residents of the area claim that most tricycle riders in Nyanya migrated from neighbouring states. They drag the highway to the extent of assuming ownership of it.
A visit by the Abuja Inquirer reporter to the axis shows a total non-regulatory illegal means of operating a transport system particularly with such vulnerable ones on the highways. Accidents with huge fatalities are common sights along the express road. In the course of investigation it appears the group quest for survival is the major reason why they found the highway profitable was because of the volume of demand for quick and a faster means of moving from area to the other.
This group have ceased the highways as if it is meant for them and this should not be condoned. It only shows that if they are allow they are authority on their own. They need to be check and restricted to where it is convenient for them to operate. It is important that the appropriate authority ensure that they don’t veer off their route such that they continue to constitute the nuisance and notoriety they have assumed on the highways.
What this means is that this groups are above the law. The laws regulating their movements on the highways seems to be ambushed or crassly underrated. It is a huge disappointment and misplaced priority that they are allowed to continue to act as threat on the highways with their unruly behaviour and activities on the road.
This call for a serious attention being devoted to their monitoring so as to avoid unnecessary nuisances on the major road they have been stopped from plying.
However, part of the efforts is to strengthen the transportation system and ensure more discipline and sanity is restored on the Nyanya- Mararaba road over the sudden rise in the influx of tricycle operators popularly known as Keke Mauruwa on the ever busy highway, a visit to the association office to know why the rapidity in large numbers in such a sensitive axis shows there is more to do on the road by way of enforcement of the traffic rules and regulations.
Calls to the cell phone of the chairman of the Tricycle Association Nyanya Mararaba road, TANM, Ameer Love were not responded.
However, in a brief chat with one of the operators who didn’t want his name in print said the reason why they are on the highway is because they make more money on the road than the streets barring the risk and the attendant consequences.
“We are on the road because plenty people going out every day. And you know we are easy to access. We stop every now and then. We don’t have bus stop for dropping passengers. Apart from our take off points there are no basic provisions. We pay ticket.
“I want this keke to be restricted to the streets and close. There is no need coming to the highway. It is dangerous. Keke is not balanced. And any little touch, it is falling even with people inside", he said.
A lawyer, Barr. Godwin Adeyemi, urged the authorities concern in the management of the highway to enforce strict rules on why tricycle should not ply the highway because such axis is not meant for them.
Last September, worried by several complaints by other road users, the Vehicle Inspection Office, VIO, moved to checkmate the activities of the commercial tricycle operators but ended up in a riot and disturbance to public peace by the drivers.
The protest, which started from Life Camp Junction in Abuja spread to Jabi Motor Park, Airport Junction and Karmo. It left many commuters stranded for hours in the affected areas.
The tricycle drivers blocked traffic, pushed down police checkpoints and set tyres ablaze around Jabi in the Nigerian capital.
“They just came with their Hilux vans and started shooting and when we started running they began to damage our Keke Napep,” a protester had told PREMIUM TIMES then.
Since then not much has been done to tame the recklessness of the operators including finding them on major expressways.
Keke NAPEP at a 'bus stop.'